Motherwell man tests pioneering new app to guide blind people
A Motherwell man who is registered blind made a return visit to the Dundee V&A design museum recently to try out again a new app that can guide people around the exhibits and explain what they are.
Fraser Fleming (38), who is registered blind due to diabetic retinopathy, was part of a group from the national sight loss charity RNIB Scotland who first tested the My Eyes app at the museum in March.
My Eyes, designed by Portuguese company IKi Technology, creates 'blind compliant zones' in which a mobile phone talks to a user when it encounters a GPS co-ordinate or a strategically placed 'beacon' which speaks texts previously recorded in the system. These texts can describe an exhibit while also giving directions on how to go from one point to another.
Fraser said: "The My Eye App is a unique app that has the potential to help people with a visual impairment to access and find out information about their surrounding environment.
"We were able to safely successfully navigate, with instruction from the app, from Dundee train station to the front entrance of the museum. Once here, we were then able to follow the audio guides provided by the My Eye App to navigate safely round the exhibitions and get very informative descriptions of the exhibits.
"I can see this app having a great potential to help people with a visual impairment in, not just tourism, but also in their day-to-day life. I found this to be very user-friendly with little input required from the person, and this simplicity make it a very accessible app.
"I think that now, after the long period of lockdown and restrictions on people's freedoms, it is very important to be encouraging and supporting people to go out and visit new and exciting locations or familiar places. I can't wait to see how the developers bring this app to fruition in the future and I wish them great success with it."
James Adams, director of Edinburgh-based RNIB Scotland, said: "New technology has immense potential to make life easier and better for people who are blind or partially sighted. It's really encouraging, too, that V&A Dundee is keen help to make its exhibits as accessible as possible to everyone in the community. We hope this app will open up a range of venues to people with sight loss elsewhere."
Fraser has a particular interest in how new technology can help to maximise the independence of blind and partially sighted people.
In 2018, he co-founded a Glasgow-based charity called TripleTapTech to help others with a visual impairment access and try out new technology. "We also provide a home visit service throughout Scotland where we can visit people and help them in their own environment," he said.
The charity has been nominated and made it to the finals of the National Diversity Awards for Entrepreneur of the year 2022 and the Scottish Charity Awards for Community Action 2021. It has also won the RNIB See Differently Award for Community Contribution of the Year 2019, while Fraser personally was awarded the Lord Provost Citizenship Award in North Lanarkshire 2021.